23:10 GMT +320 August 2019
Listen Live
    In this undated photo released Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, by China's Xinhua News Agency, a pair of Chinese fighter jets fly during a patrol over the South China Sea

    South China Sea: Washington 'Lost the Plot and the Pivot' in Southeast Asia

    © AP Photo / Fan Yishu/Xinhua
    Politics
    Get short URL
    Ekaterina Blinova
    14735

    Although Washington has taken every effort to undermine Beijing's position in the Southeast region, US President Obama's "Pivot to Asia" policy has failed. Geostrategic analyst Mathew Maavak and CNTV Editor Tom McGregor shared their views on the prospects of the South China Sea dispute in an interview with Sputnik.

    While China is pushing ahead with the New Silk Road initiative and establishing closer working relationships with other major Eurasian powers, such as Russia and India, in order to transform the continent into a unified trade space, Washington has increased its pressure on Beijing.

    It is hardly a coincidence that the US has intensified its FONOP (freedom of navigation operation) maneuvers in the South China Sea at the same time trying to drive a wedge between Beijing and the ASEAN nations.

    Furthermore, on July 12, 2016 The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) issued a ruling on the dispute brought by the Philippines — the US' military ally since 1951 — against China over the South China Sea back in 2013. The Court stipulated that China's historic claims within the nine-dash line in the South China Sea have no legal foundation.

    The arbitration case was brought at the PCA in 2013 by former Philippine president Benigno Aquino, who at the same time started negotiating an enhanced defense pact with Washington aimed at beefing up US military presence in the region.

    In March 2016 Militarytimes.com highlighted that the agreement between Washington and Manila had come into force, paving the way for a new American "permanent military presence" across five bases in the Philippines and targeting "the contested South China Sea."

    It seemed that Barack Obama's "Pivot to Asia" strategy reached its goal.

    However, further developments showed that there's many a slip between the cup and the lip.

    Following The Hague ruling ASEAN nations refused to aggravate tensions with China, while the Philippines' new leader Rodrigo Duterte didn't rush to reap the benefits of the award.

    A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, the Philippines (File)
    © REUTERS / Erik De Castro
    A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, the Philippines (File)
       

    Why Obama's 'Pivot to Asia' Strategy Has Been Proven Ineffective

    As Obama's second term is ending, can we say that his Pivot to Asia strategy has failed?

    "Without a scintilla of doubt!" Mathew Maavak, geostrategic analyst and doctoral candidate in Security Foresight at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) told Sputnik. 

    "Washington virtually sent an armada to rebuff so-called Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, and expected the Philippines to be its military pivot in Southeast Asia. Instead, President Rodrigo Duterte called his American counterpart a 'son of a b***' and is now requesting the exit of US Special Forces from the southern Philippines," he noted.

    "I will be charting a [new] course [for the Philippines] on its own and will not be dependent on the United States," Duterte stressed after elections, as quoted by Reuters.

    Furthermore, the new Philippines President announced recently that he is mulling purchasing arms from China and Russia and may end joint patrol with the US in the South China Sea, prompting experts to speculate about a "dramatic shift in the geostrategic picture of the region," as Bloomberg noted.

    "Generally, US efforts in this area [the South China Sea region] have not been successful.  It is trying hard to cultivate special ties with Vietnam — using the South China Sea card — but Hanoi is hedging its cards well by engaging Moscow and New Delhi as well," Maavak pointed out.

    "The US may have lost the plot — and the pivot — but does it still possess the capability to destabilize Southeast Asia? That's the worrying question…" he remarked.

    Activists burn a mock US flag during a protest at the US embassy, to coincide with US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the Philippines in Manila on July 27, 2016
    © AFP 2019 / TED ALJIBE
    Activists burn a mock US flag during a protest at the US embassy, to coincide with US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the Philippines in Manila on July 27, 2016

    South China Sea May Become 'Non-Issue' if Trump Wins

    The question remains open whether or not Obama's successor will follow in his footsteps in Southeast Asia. 

    Tom McGregor, Commentator and Editor at CNTV (China Network Television), believes that if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wins the US presidential election in November, Washington may reconsider its strategy toward Beijing and Moscow.

    "Now that Trump seems more likely to become the next US president, the South China Sea may become, at least relative to today, a non-issue. Trump is more concerned about promoting fair trade and bringing jobs back to the United States and costly territorial disputes do not play into that equation," McGregor told Sputnik.

    The CNTV commentator emphasized that the Obama administration's "Pivot to Asia" has de facto accelerated the Sino-Russian rapprochement.

    "The US Pivot to Asia has forced China to pursue its own reset with Russia. We can expect closer ties between Beijing and Moscow in the days ahead so long as Washington seeks to restrain China. Nevertheless, if US reverses course during a Trump presidency, I anticipate improved bilateral ties between Russian and the US while China may face more challenges due to a Putin-Trump rapprochement," McGregor suggested.

    Meanwhile, Beijing and Moscow are bolstering the Sino-Russian cooperation. At the recent G20 Summit Beijing demonstrated "special hospitality" toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Why is Beijing interested in further political, economic and military rapprochement with Russia? Is it somehow connected with the US pressuring Beijing in the South China Sea?

    "Again, one can speculate that this gesture was indicative of larger, regional autarkic forces at work behind the scenes. It is not just the South China Sea at stake here. The world is waking up to the likelihood of a post-American multipolar world. This will be a post-dollar world as well, and it will be anchored foremost in Greater Eurasia. Only WWIII can delay — not prevent — a shift of geopolitical and geo-economic power to the East," Maavak emphasized, speaking to Sputnik.

    Related:

    Gold Yuan: Post-Dollar World Order Emerging in Eurasia
    Full of Promise, Obama's Pivot to Asia Ends With 'Slap in the Face'
    'Rusty' Instruments: China, Russia Seek New Ways to Revive Global Economy
    A Friend in Need: China Teaming Up With Russia in South China Sea
    Tags:
    Asian Pivot, territorial claims, territorial dispute, cooperation, The Hague's Arbitration Court, ASEAN, Rodrigo Duterte, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Barack Obama, South China Sea, China, United States, Russia, Vietnam, Philippines
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik